Friday began with the mundane. A chilly December day, Christmas on many residents' minds.
Newtown's center is magical this time of year with poinsettias, nutcrackers and twinkling holiday lights. Signs about town announce Christmas concerts and special events.
Just two days before, the students at Sandy Hook Elementary had enjoyed a rehearsal for the fourth-grade winter concert. How talented they were, said principal Dawn Hochsprung in a Twitter post accompanying a photo.
She'd shared other recent school photos: Of the book fairy and of kindergarteners paying the cashier in teacher Janet Vollmer's Supermarket Center, which she used in the school as a teaching tool.
Vollmer loved teaching -- she'd been doing it for 20 years. She said what made her laugh were the things the children would say. Sometimes, it was just the way they interpreted things, she told the local newspaper.
Friday morning, Vollmer made her way to the school she's called home for 15 years.
About 50 other teachers and staff and 700 young students were doing the same. Among them, Hochsprung, teacher Victoria Soto and the children of Robbie and Alissa Parker, Robert and Diane Licata and Laura and Nick Phelps.
They lived in an idyllic New England town straight out of a Robert Frost poem. People knew one another. They were firm in their faith and community. It all seemed unshakable.
Normalcy unravels with alert
Diana Licata was supposed to go to the school later to help build a gingerbread house in her son Aiden's class. She told her husband, who was working from home Friday, that maybe he should go instead. Aiden would love to have Daddy come to class.
Robert planned to be in Victoria Soto's classroom at 2 in the afternoon.
Nick and Laura Phelps made plans for a date in New York. It would be a fun Friday night without the kids.
In another Newtown house, 6-year-old Emilie Parker woke up to say goodbye to her father, Robbie, before he left for work at a local hospital.
He had been teaching Portuguese to his daughter, and she practiced by saying "bom dia" (good morning) and asking how he was.
Emilie told her daddy she loved him and gave him a kiss. Then Robbie Parker dashed out the door.
But the normalcy of the day began to unravel after Sandy Hook parents received an electronic alert shortly after classes began at 9:30.
It announced that all Newtown schools were in lockdown because of a reported shooting.
A quiet kid
Adam Lanza was only 20 years old.
Former classmate Alex Israel described him as a pretty clever young man. He was especially good in math. He was reserved and quiet, said Israel, who'd known Lanza since first grade. She thought of him as someone who flew under the radar, not someone who would ever do anything crazy.
He'd moved to Connecticut in 1998 from Kingston, New Hampshire, with his parents, Nancy and Peter, and brother Ryan. He enjoyed soccer, skateboarding and video games, according to a neighborhood booklet.
Marsha Moskowitz remembers driving the school bus Lanza rode for three years when he was a teenager. He'd sit in the back, usually alone.
He was quiet and shy. He was one of the older kids on the bus and probably was embarrassed by it, she thought.
When Lanza was 17, his parents divorced. Peter Lanza remarried and lived not far from Newtown. Adam lived with his mother.
One of his aunts described him as a "challenge." She said Nancy Lanza "battled" with the school board and ended up having her son home-schooled.